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Pierre Max DUBOIS


The Fifties !

As fledgling composers, polishing the benches of that great institution in the rue de Madrid, we were alert to Donaueschingen's daring. Verbal swords were crossed between the descendants of Debussy's sun and the shining knights of that other more ascetic sun which shone down on waters portrayed by the young Boulez in Le soleil des eaux, 1951. We were also attracted by the new sounds of concrete music. In short, we were all passionately sure that we would set the world to rights and add a crucial chapter to the history of music.

But under Milhaud and Rivier, a distinguished, elegant young man, newly arrived from his native Languedoc via the Tours conservatory (where he picked up prizes for clarinet, harmony and piano), confronted these innovative surges with apparent carelessness, moving deftly along the paths of tonal composition. I remember the hours spent around the piano on which the master asked each of us to arrange our last orchestral work.

Pierre Max Dubois, not far past his twentieth birthday, sat down nonchalantly at the keyboard. As we watched, he displayed the serene technique that left the 1951 piano competition jury nonplussed, tripping nimbly through the light velvet of the Suite humoristique which soon gave way to the astounding Divertissement, winner of the 1953 composition prize. Decidedly, Pierre Max Dubois was Prix de Rome material ! Drawing on his _youthful association with Tours and the tradition of Balzac's Contes drolatiques, fortune smiled on our friend in his loge as he excelled in the Rabelaisian Rire de Gargantua, the set exercise for this Premier Grand Prix de Rome final which he won hands down in 1953.

From then on, aesthetic quarrels aside, we were forced to recognise that he was a perfect musician, showing total mastery of composition in the vein of excellence of a modern Chabrier. Our studies over, we each chose our own path in the field of musical plurality with its load of influences, reflections and achievements. I learnt that although Pierre Max Dubois still favoured composition - opus by opus - he was pursuing his career both as a pianist and a conductor.

I also learnt that from 1967 to 1995, he gave analysis and musical culture classes at the C.N.S.M. in Paris. Obviously, he was completely familiar with the various systems of composition. But as a composer, he seemed quite untouched by the language problems which marked our period. His music always displayed the same bite, the same spontaneity, the same skill, the same lack of influence from different research tendencies and the same irony. His titles made fun of everything, even perhaps the man himself : Musique pour un western (a mischievous resumé of all the film formulae of the fifties), a java for orchestra, La grande truanderie, Quintette burlesque... One day, I discovered his recording of Musique ésotérique and thought, “What ? Do our dandy's fetching sallies conceal deep thoughts ?”

My question was answered later, during a conversation : “By nature, I am impulsive, but there is a hidden part of me which is certainly more serious. However, my character incites me to write gay music. I love humour and I have no pretension of stopping the world in its spin.”

Maguy Lovano

See all works composed by Pierre Max DUBOIS

Works composed by Pierre Max DUBOIS

See all works composed by Pierre Max DUBOIS


10 préludes, for piano
Pno : Kenneth van Barthold
Enregistrement CD DARMO DARCD902.

Histoire de piano, for piano
Pno : Kenneth van Barthold
Enregistrement CD DARMO DARCD902.

Sonate, for piano
Pno : Kenneth van Barthold
Enregistrement CD DARMO DARCD902.

Deuxième concerto, for saxophone and orchestra
Sax : Daniel Gremelle
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra
Enregistrement Marco Polo 8.225127.